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Man charged with animal cruelty after 30 dogs found in north Forsyth mobile home
Billy Shirley
Shirley - photo by For the FCN

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NORTH FORSYTH — The man in whose mobile home in north Forsyth 30 dogs were rescued from what were described as deplorable conditions has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Billy Ray Shirley, 59, was charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s animal control unit for keeping the dogs inside the single-wide trailer on Franklin Goldmine Road, according to Deputy Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency.

Shirley was released from the hospital about 6 p.m. Tuesday and was taken to the Forsyth County Jail, where he is being held on a $34,650 bond.

The charges stemmed from a call the sheriff’s office received Feb. 3 from an area hospital, whose staff was concerned about remarks Shirley made.

Shirley had arrived at the hospital “with complaints of stomach pains. Staff documented that he was covered in feces,” according to an incident report.

The hospital staff who called the sheriff’s office said there were “even dead cockroaches stuck in the feces.”

Shirley apparently explained he had more than 20 dogs in his home — though he was unsure exactly how many — and wanted to “find new homes for them.”

The only two dogs he asked to keep were Blue, whom he said was his first dog and the mother of the rest, and Little Man.

He said his backyard was missing a gate, so he could not let them out.

Executing a search warrant at the home, deputies initially found 27 Jack Russell terriers, one of which was dead. About 10-12 thought to be 5 weeks old were found on a bed.

“There was feces everywhere,” Rodriguez said of the home. “You could tell they were urinating inside.”

Trash, broken furniture and feces could be seen in the yard and inside then home, according to the report.

Three more dogs were found the next day during a second search.

“The conditions were so deplorable and cluttered, and with all the cracks and crevices, they very simply could have been hiding,” Rodriguez said.

They are not yet up for adoption, he said.

“It’s up to us to take it before a judge who will determine if he is capable of taking care of these dogs,” Rodriguez said. “He can relinquish them himself. But if not then, it’s a matter of the court.”

He said Shirley does not appear to have a prior history of animal cruelty with the sheriff’s office.

The surviving dogs were taken to the county animal shelter in north Forsyth where, at last check, they were being treated and were in overall good condition.